Monday, 16 July 2018

Watch Out ... Camera About

I’m sure you’ve seen those programs where they stop unsuspecting people in the street and film them in funny situations for showing on TV afterwards. Some of the situations can be quite hilarious and the victims usually laugh and agree to have the film shown on TV.
Years ago I worked as a junior with an independent film maker and we were assigned to do such a film.
As I speak French well, the idea was that I would stop people in the street and ask them directions to a particular place in a heavy French accent. As they spoke, I’d pretend not to understand and I’d keep changing the location where I wanted to go.
The camera was hidden well out of view and the sound engineer explained the technical bits.
“The director will speak to you through this ear-piece” he said, “listen to his every instructions.”
I nodded.
“This is the latest microphone model. Cutting edge engineering technology.” he continued, “It looks just like a £1 coin, just two centimeters in diameter. Yet it picks up sound from a great distance.”
I pretended to be impressed.
“It doesn’t have a clip!” I said, “How will I clip it to my shirt?”
“You don’t” he replied with a smile, “you put it straight on your chest under the shirt. It goes straight on your skin.”
“You mean it is glued on me?”
“Not glued … we use the very latest adhesive solution on the market. Totally invisible, just like water. A tiny drop and the microphone is in place and no one will suspect you’re wearing it”.
Moments later I was ready for my first victim. I stood in the street looking confusingly in a map book and pretending to be lost. A tall man in a white priest’s collar walked towards me from the left. The director said in my ear “Aha … a man of the cloth. He’s bound to be very helpful. Stop him and … ACTION!”
“Scuze moi Monsieur!” I said in my best French accent “I cannot find ze hotel … where iz eet?”
He looked at the map and then proceeded to give me directions.
“Excellent,” whispered the director in my ear, “keep him talking!”
“Tres bien …” I said “Zat is ze hotel … but ze restaurant … eet haz moved … where iz ze restaurant?”
At this point I felt the microphone slip a bit from my chest. Obviously the adhesive wasn’t as good as I was told. It stopped again on my stomach.
“The sound quality has deteriorated,” the voice in my ear said, “get closer to him.”
I moved closer to the priest and asked another question.
“No good,” said the voice “I hear rumbling as if we’re on a train.”
I hadn’t eaten that morning because of nervousness. This was my first live interview. My knees were trembling. I had butterflies in my stomach and their knees were trembling too. A symphony of hunger pangs and trapped wind played softly into the microphone much to the distress of the director and the sound engineer.
“What the **** is that?” cursed the director in my ear, “fix it quick.”
I surreptitiously pretended to scratch my stomach whilst continuing the conversation in broken English with the priest. I tried in vain to push the microphone up to its original position but it slipped down a further few inches and stopped below the waistline !!!
“The rumbling has stopped” said the voice, “now we can’t hear a thing. Get even closer to him!”
How do I do that? I thought.
I can hardly ask him to bend down and address me down there so I can hear him better!
Can you imagine the conversation?
“Excuse me Father, I’ve had an ear transplant that went wrong and they put my ear down there. Can you speak a bit lower down so I can hear you more clearly?”
I ignored the director’s frantic screams and I tried to move the microphone again. But you can hardly scratch down there in public whilst conducting an interview with a priest … or with anyone else for that matter!
Perhaps if I pretended to get my handkerchief out of my trouser pocket, that should do it … Botheration!!! That didn’t work either. The microphone rolled down my trouser leg and fell on the ground.
“That’s better!” said the director’s voice “We can hear him but faintly. Get him a little closer”.
Easier said than done.
What do I do now? Do I lie down on the side-walk and say “We French are very relaxed people. We don’t panic even when we’re lost. Why not join me down here so we can discuss directions?”
I gave up in sheer frustration.
In my best English accent I said “Thank you Father. You’ve been very kind to help me; I know my way from here!”
He smiled in total confusion at my sudden grasp of the English language. He shook my hand and then … looking down he said, “Someone has dropped a £1 coin. I’ll put it in the Sunday collection plate!”
He picked up the microphone and walked away!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

If you don't believe ... leave!

John Chapter 6 has been the source of much debate and confusion over the years ... and the arguments will still go on. No doubt to the amusement of Jesus looking down upon us and saying: "You of little Faith. Why can't you just believe and stop dissecting and analysing everything I said as if I were an insect in your lab!"

I speak of course of the part in that Chapter where Jesus says He is "the Bread of life" and later when He says that unless people eat His flesh or drink His blood they will not have life.

As you can imagine, this was very confusing to His listeners; even His followers and disciples.

"What is He on about?" they asked. "How can we eat His flesh and drink His blood? This is cannibalism surely. This is too much for us. We don't want to follow this guy any longer!"

So what did Jesus do?

He didn't say "Hey ... wait a minute. You didn't understand what I meant. This is what I really meant to say ... let me explain!"

No ... Jesus let them go. He didn't try to justify Himself or what He had just said. It was as if He dissolved the unspoken contract between them. They could not accept a certain clause so He let them go.

Then He turned to His disciples and asked: "How about you? Do you want to go as well?"

As ever, Peter was first to answer: "To whom shall we go?" he asked. "We're in this for the duration, all the way, to the end". Or words to that effect, signifying that he trusted Jesus without question; albeit no doubt he had many questions in his mind. Peter accepted Christ's words without question and stepped out in blind Faith and dared to believe.

So what are we to make of all this after all these years? Did Jesus mean what He said literally or was it all symbolism and imagery using common day articles of the time like bread and wine to signify the sacrifice He is to endure for us? His flesh would be torn by the beating and the nailing to the Cross and His blood would be spilled for us. Was it all symbolism?

Quite frankly, I'm with Peter on this.

I don't believe there is much to be gained in debating this ad-infinitum because in reality I doubt any of us will ever come to a satisfactory conclusion. Wiser heads than mine have argued this matter over the centuries much to the amusement of Jesus looking down from above. Any efforts by me at interpreting this would no doubt have Jesus rolling on the floor with laughter.

So I am minded to accept it for what it is. Something that Jesus said and we're to believe it as best we humanly can.

There's no point in closing your eyes tightly and repeating over and over again "I believe ... I believe ... even though I don't understand it ... I believe".

God who can see deep within our hearts, and knows our human nature and its failings, realises that it is too difficult for us to understand.

But then, He does not ask us to understand Him. He asks us to love Him and to trust Him without any evidence whatsoever.

It's what is called Faith.

To believe when your common sense tells you not to.

By the way: you may wish to visit this link and see what happened to a priest who had difficulties in believing. Please CLICK HERE.

God bless.

Friday, 13 July 2018

How the Marsupial got his name

The story goes something like this. Many years ago, when Captain James Cook, a British explorer and Captain in the Royal Navy, sailed the seas he travelled towards a new land now known as Australia. The controversy here is that Captain Cook discovered Australia. This is open to debate.

In those days the ships had a look-out sailor high up on the mast, in the crow's nest, as it was called, looking out for other ships nearby and for land. When he saw land he would shout "Land Ahoy! Land Ahoy!" and the Captain would sail the ship towards it.

So this sailor, a Scotsman, Henry Baker by name, claimed that it was he who first discovered Australia and not Captain Cook; and he wanted it named after him. Because in those days, new discoveries were named either after the person who made the discovery, or the Monarch of the day: for example, Rhodesia. Victoria Falls, Straits of Magellan.

Captain Cook thought this was a half-baked idea. There is no way he would allow Australia to be named Bakerland, or Bakeland, or The Great British Bake Off, or anything to do with this impudent sailor with high ideas in life. So he locked him up in the toilet.

As the ship approached shore, Captain Cook looked on the beach with his telescope to see if this land was inhabited. To his surprise, he saw on shore a lot of creatures with short arms, and big strong legs hopping up and down to and fro. No one had seen such animals before. So he handed the telescope to his second-in-command and asked him, "What is that creature over there?"

At that very moment, Henry Baker, the Scottish sailor, woke up in the toilet, having nursed a whole bottle of whisky. He found the door locked and shouted in his broad Glasgow accent, "Ah ... Kangar ... Oot! ... Ah ... Kangar ... Oot!", meaning I cannot get out.

This sound was echoed by the other members of the crew and the second-in-command, believing that the crew knew what the creature was, said to Captain Cook, "a kangaroo!"

And that's how the kangaroo got its name.

This is a true story. If you do not believe me ask Paula "Thunder Thighs" Hillman.

I went to school with her and she told me this story. I used to carry her books to be friends with her. Ah ... the memories !!!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The NUDE Starship Underpants

We interrupt the Starship Underpants series to bring you a serious post worthy of consideration and debate and we would be happy to hear your point of view and opinions.

The last episode of the Starship Underpants dealt with the story of Lady Godiva, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who throughout her life had donated a lot of money, land and jewellery to establish various monasteries and to help good causes in England. She lived in Coventry and seeing that the folks of that town paid too much tax agreed to ride naked throughout town if her husband, (the ruler of the town), would lower the taxes.

Now we don't know whether the Godiva story is true or not. But can you imagine the conviction and love in the woman? She felt so much pity for the poor tax-payers of Coventry that she agreed to humiliate herself for them. Having given away a fortune in her lifetime for others, she went a step further still in order to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.

That particular episode of the Starship Underpants asked the question as to when is nudity "acceptable"; especially if it is in the aid of someone else less fortunate than ourselves. We are grateful for your responses in the comments box.

Denise in VA, (check her Blog), however, raises another pertinent point. She says "... magnificent works of art bothers me not. I was once told off by a visitor for not giving a warning when I posted a photograph of a nude statue ..."

Leaving aside for a moment our personal nudity for the benefit of a good cause, like paying the medical fees of a sick child, or relative, facing death, (I'm sure you can think of other causes). Leaving that aside, Denise's comment raises the question of when is nudity art, therefore "acceptable".

For many many years artists, painters, sculptors and photographers have been fascinated by the nude body. It has been accepted as art and admired by many over the years.

Look at the two pictures below:

This is a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted in 1888 and entitled "After the bath". It is one of many nude paintings by this artist. No doubt you can think of many other paintings and sculptures of nudity by famous and not so famous people.

This is a photograph taken by an SLR Camera with an automatic shutter speed and blah ... blah ... blah ...

Now over to you ... would you consider both pictures as art?

Why? Why not?

When is the naked form considered acceptable as art?

Some famous nude paintings have, at the time, and since, been considered as provocative. But are they art? Are they "acceptable"?

Consider for example Édouard Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe", also known as "The Luncheon on the Grass".
Here we have a naked lady having a picnic with two fully dressed men. Controversial enough as a picnic scene until we learn that Manet's wife Suzanne Leenhoff posed for the naked woman, although the face on the painting is that of another model. Stranger still, the men sitting beside her are Manet's brother Gustave, and his brother-in-law Ferdinand Leenhoff.

Can you imagine the tongues wagging at the time when people found out who the characters are in the painting?

Can you imagine Manet's wife agreeing to pose for the painting? Was it a good cause in her eyes? Yet, she felt that her face should be replaced by that of another model. I wonder why?

Can you imagine Manet asking his wife to pose for him in the presence of his brother and his brother-in-law? All in the cause of art?

Supplementary question: What are the two men talking about, the football game on TV last might?

Plenty to discuss here - over to you.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

The Starship Underpants - Episode Seven


As we travelled here there and everywhere searching for the Tooth Fairy the Captain said, "We have never travelled back in time. In sci-fi stories on TV and the cinema they always travel back in time. Why don't we do that?"

"Where would you like to go?" asked Calculus, our robotic humanoid.

"I'd like to go back to my childhood," said the Captain, "that way I'll find out how my father always knew how much the Tooth Fairy will leave under my pillow!"

"Why not go somewhere more adventurous?" asked Number One.

"OK ... spin the wheel Calculus and see where we go," replied the Captain, "but first, Mr Spanner, are you sure the transporter beams are working properly? I hate it if our molecules get taken apart and then put together on the surface in the wrong place and I end up with an extra nose, or an eye at the end of my finger!"

"Och aye Cap'ain" said Spanner, our Scottish engineer, "the transporter beams have been fixed. You have no worries for yourself. I'll be here on the ship doing all the worrying for you!"

"Right, that inspires me full of confidence, Spanner ... let's put together an away team," said the Captain, "it will be myself, Number One, and Doctor Penny C Lynn. Calculus you have the bridge. Orbit around the planet far enough away that the people down there will think we are just another star in their sky! They won't suspect a thing."

The three of them stood on the transporting platform. Number One said, "Touch your left nipples to check the communication systems work OK ... all ready? Spin the wheel backwards into the past.  Energise!"

The transporter beams shone on the three of them and they disappeared.

As they landed on planet Earth they discovered they were in a castle somewhere and dressed in very odd costumes. They were in the 11th Century in England. But somehow, the transporter beams malfunctioned again; for there were only two of them ... Number One and the Captain.

What was more peculiar is that the Captain had been transported down to earth as a woman.

"What's happened to me?" he cried, "I look and feel different!"

"How different?" asked Number One admiring his new clothing.

"Can't you see?" cried the Captain again, "I have these big breasts for a start and ... and ... I seem to be missing certain parts up front!"

"I do like your dress," replied Number One.

The Captain touched his, or her, left nipple and shouted, "Spanner ... you idiot ... look what you've done. I am a woman."

"There's been a slight error, Cap'ain ..." replied Spanner, "are you feeling OK?"

"OK?" shouted the Captain, "OK? I feel totally different you moron. Everything about me is different. My breasts are large and heavy ... my hair is long ... everything is different. I never thought women are that different ... but they are. These breasts are so large and heavy I need a counterweight on my back to keep me from falling forwards!"

"Calculus ... where is Doctor Penny C Lynn?" asked Number One touching his nipple.

"She is suspended in mid-space, Commander" replied Calculus, "it appears that the Captain has re-materialised on earth in her body, and she is suspended in his body!"

"What do you mean suspended in my body?" cried the Captain, "she'd better take good care of it. And be careful what she touches. I don't want her to damage anything!"

"Calculus ... can you work out where we are and who we are?" asked Number One.

"You are in 11th Century England," explained Calculus, "you are Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and the Captain is Lady Godiva, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman. You are married and have a son named Aelfgar."

"I am married to him?" cried the Captain, "don't you get any ideas Number One or I'll slap your face!"

"Both of you are very generous benefactors to religious houses," continued Calculus, "in 1043 Leofric founded and endowed a Benedictine Monastery in Coventry, England. This is where you are right now, in Coventry."

"Go on ..." encouraged Number One, whilst the Captain was looking at his new body and prodding it with his finger.

"Look at the size of my nipples ..." he mumbled.

Calculus continued, "In 1050, both you Commander, and the Captain, your wife, gave land for the St Mary's Monastery in Worcester and for the Minster in Stow St Mary in Lincolnshire. You are also benefactors of other monasteries in Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham. The Captain, Lady Godiva, also gave a lot of jewellery and precious metals to various causes over her lifetime."

"We seem to be good people," smiled Number One.

"There's more ..." continued Calculus, "you Sir, appear to be over taxing the people of Coventry. Your popularity amongst the people is falling. I would say they hate you in fact. Your wife, the Captain, Lady Godiva, has urged you several times to lower the taxes but you have ignored her ... until now ... Oh dear ..."

"What do you mean, Oh dear?" asked the Captain getting somewhat agitated again.

"It seems Sir," hesitated Calculus, "that in order to pacify Lady Godiva, you Commander, said  to your wife, the Captain Godiva, 'I'll lower the taxes if you strip naked and ride a horse through the streets of Coventry!'"

"What?" cried the Captain and Number One in unison.

"It is true," went on Calculus, "it appears, Captain, that in order to fulfil and accomplish the time line continuum you have to ride naked on a horse through Coventry."

"Not on your mechanical RAM computerised life, you robotic machine," cried the Captain, "as for you Spanner, you moronic engineer, remind me to kill you when we next meet!"

"Well Captain," continued Calculus after he had filtered all the insults through his memory data banks, "let me explain. Right now, you are Lady Godiva and the Commander is your husband. Unless you fulfil your destiny as it happened in the 11th Century, that is, unless you ride naked through Coventry, you will remain in the 11th Century for ever in the female body you now have. And Doctor Lynn will remain suspended in mid-space in your body for ever. One can only imagine what she will do with it!"

The Captain said nothing and looked at himself, (or herself), for a while trying to assess the situation.

"Stop looking at your breasts," said Number One, "you'll attract attention to yourself!"

"Oh yeah?" replied the Captain, "and you don't think riding naked through town will attract enough attention?"

And that's how it came to pass that Leofric reduced the taxes in Coventry and Lady Godiva, (the Captain), rode naked throughout town.

Lady Godiva issued a proclamation that on a certain day everyone should remain indoors and shut all their windows because she was going to ride naked on a horse throughout town. (I wonder how many horses volunteered for the job).

Now how naive is that? Did Lady Godiva, (the Captain), really expect everyone to stay indoors after such an announcement? Did NO ONE take a photo with their cell-phones and post it on Facebook?

On the day in question Lady Godiva rode naked on a horse and paraded throughout town.

But a tailor called Tom succumbed to temptation. He made a small hole in his window shutters and had a good look at what he should not have been looking at. And that's where the name Peeping Tom originates from. Apparently he was struck blind after the event.

His friend Ivan Eyeful was wiser and more cautious because he chanced one eye through his peep hole.

After this event, the Captain, Number One and Doctor Penny C Lynn were transported back in their proper bodies onto the spaceship.

Spanner, the engineer, hid in the freezer compartment of our food replicators where he still is to this day.


THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Lady Godiva, all those years ago, was so charitable in heart that she agreed to ride naked in order for her husband to lower taxes on the poor. Today, (in the UK), we often hear of people posing naked for calendars to be sold for a charitable cause.  

Is it right to disrobe for a good cause? 

Would you do it? 

How much would convince you to help a charitable cause close to your heart?

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Starship Underpants - Episode Six


After our encounter with Musa the banana we continued our journey towards the far off planet which Earth HQ had asked us to visit. This took several light years and a few dark ones when the electricity generator stopped working and all the lights went off.

Eventually, Calculus sitting at the controls said, "Two spaceships ahead, Captain. They appear to be from Molar an M Class planet covered with cavities on the surface leading to several fissures running deep into the planet's crust. The two ships are making a grinding sound as they bump into each other. They have taken offensive positions, with their sister smaller much ferocious ships known as Canines. They are stationed on either side of us. They are engaging their weapons systems".

"Red alert," said our Commander, Number One, touching his left nipple, " gum shields up ... toothpaste at the ready ... tooth brushes too ... prepare protein torpedoes, carbohydrate pies and sugary sweets and everything else you can think of".

"On screen," said the Captain, "magnify ..."

Spanner, our engineer, brought up a split screen so we could see both captains of both Molar spaceships at the same time. Apparently, the screen was split because it fell as he was carrying it and it broke.

As a sideline, let me tell you something about Spanner, our engineer. Once he spent all day changing the glass panels in all the windows on the spaceship because he thought they were cracked. When he finished he realised he had a crack on his spectacles.

Anyway ... we saw the two Molar Captains of the two spaceships on our split screen. They looked humanoids although some of their facial features had been altered a little so that they may appear as aliens from outer space.

"Who are you?" asked the alien on the left of our split screen.

The Captain replied, "Ivor Spatial-Anomaly".

The alien refrained from making any jokes about it because he felt we had already worn out this joke somewhat. Instead, through gritted teeth, he asked our Captain, "You have a funny accent, where are you from?"

"I am from Oxford, England, Sir," replied our Captain in his best English accent. The Molar alien looked at his companion on the other half of the split screen and smiled. You could tell from his grin that he had teeth like the Ten Commandments - all broken!

"Do you judge people by their accents?" asked our Captain.

"No ... I judge them by their distance," replied the alien, "the further away they are the more I like them! You are in our space ... clear off or we shoot you!"

The alien on the right of the screen stepped in the conversation, "One moment ..." he said and then he asked our Commander, "Your captain said Ivor Spatial-Anomaly ... how about you? What do you say?"

"I've pickled onions!" replied Number One.

"Are they painful?" asked the alien?

"No ... they are in a jar," replied Number One, "they're from the Onion Nebula!"

The two alien Molars looked at each other and one said, "I told you these humans are strange! They keep their onions in a jar. I wonder what else they collect!"

"We'd better be on our way," said our Captain hastily, "we bid you goodbye".

"We would like you to find our father's teeth!" said the Molar on the left.

"Your father's teeth?" asked Number One, "explain ..."

"Some light years ago," explained the alien, "it was very noisy at night because we had a fiesta in town. Our father, the ruler of the planet, known as Megabite by everyone, could not get to sleep because of the noise outside in the street. So he put his head under the pillow. By morning the Tooth Fairy had taken all his teeth!"

"How awful," said our Captain, "I remember my dad telling me to put my tooth under the pillow and the Tooth Fairy will leave me some money. I always believed that she will leave me £100 at least. My dad said she will definitely leave me 5 pennies. Amazing how he was always right when I lost a tooth".

"Did the Tooth Fairy leave your father any money?" Number One asked the Molars.

"About 1700 Fillings," replied one of the aliens, "that's our local currency."

"That's not enough to buy him a new set of false teeth ..." said Number One.

"No ... but it bought him quite a few straws to suck his food with," replied the alien.

"I like straws," reminisced the Captain, "reminds me of drinking milkshakes at the cinema. I liked the cinema! Milkshake, sweets, chocolate, popcorn, kissin' in the back row of the movies on a Saturday night with Ermetrude, holding hands together ... ehm ... quite ... eh ... got carried away rather, I would say ... what?"

"Yeh too," added Number One, "I liked the movies. I used to go often in my teens, my twenties, my thirties and ... Eh ... it was watching sci-fi films that made me want to be a spaceman.

"Do you know, I have never seen a film all the way through in the cinema. I always fell asleep half-way. By the time I woke up the film had finished.

"I once asked the cinema manager if I could buy half a ticket to see the film from the bit I fell asleep to the end. He wouldn't let me. So I bought a whole ticket but only went in the cinema at the point where I fell asleep before.

"Ten minutes later I fell asleep again and missed the ending of the film once more.

"On one occasion I fell asleep during the film and woke up when they were showing the following week's trailers. As it happens the next week was a Western film starring the same lead actor as on the film I was watching right now. I could not understand the story line how this actor changed from being a Centurion in ancient Rome to being a cowboy in Texas!"

"Are you going to help us find our father's teeth or not?" asked one of the aliens angrily, "I have a feeling you are lying through your teeth just to avoid helping us!"

He was really enraged at the Captain's and Number One's laissez-faire attitude. But we could see  from his lack of teeth that his bark was worse than his bite; indeed, the worse he could do is give you a very bad suck!

Suddenly, we noticed from the corner of the screen that their leader, and father, Megabite, entered the bridge of one of the alien space ships. Suddenly, his two sons, and the whole crew of both ships, stood up and sang their National Anthem.

As the Molar Anthem finished our Captain stopped saluting and said,

"We will endeavour to seek and search high and low and to leave no tooth un-turned in order to find the missing Tooth Fairy right now your Dentiness! Do you know where she is?"

"No body knows," replied all the Molars in unison, "if we knew we would have gone there ourselves."

"On our way ..." said our Captain, "gum shields up!"

(My dentist allowing)

Sunday, 8 July 2018

The Starship Underpants - Episode Five


We could see right ahead the unidentified flying object. It was another space ship. So it now became an identified flying object, which is a logical difference between an un-identified flying object and an identified one. Once when I was in London, standing next to a tall building, I looked up and there was an un-identified flying object coming towards me. By the time I identified it I was squashed down by a grand piano. Let that be a lesson to all musicians out there. What a discordant note it was for me that day. Can you imagine what it's like being hit by a grand piano? It could have been worse I suppose. Thankfully the pianist wasn't there too and the fat lady singing opera. What a newspaper headline that would have been. Man dies under fat lady singing Rigoletto.

"La donna e mobile qual piuma al vento,
muta d'accento e di pensiero.
Sempre un amabile leggiadro viso,
in pianto o in riso, e menzognero.
La donna e mobil qual piuma al vento,
muta d'acc...ento e di pensier, e di pensier,
e... e di pensier."
Which roughly translated means, "woman is fickle, she changes her thoughts, words and voice, like a feather in the wind. Until she falls on you like a tonne of bricks and flattens you into a pulp!"

Anyway ... back to the Starship Underpants.

"Open communications channels," said our Captain touching his left nipple intercom, "all known languages! All frequencies. All musical styles ... except Opera!"

At this the communication system said:

"Hello out there! ... Bonjour là-bas! ... Hallo da draußen! ... Ciao là fuori! ... Hola por ahí! ..."

"OK ... make it English only," interrupted the Captain, "I have seen this on TV. Whenever spaceships meet aliens from other planets on TV and the movies the aliens always speak perfect English. So let's communicate with this spaceship in English. If they don't understand we'll speak very slowly and very loud. That often solves the problem.

"I remember going on holiday abroad often enough as a child with my parents. It was full of foreign people who did not speak English. We spoke slowly and loud. In time things changed. Now, wherever you go on Planet Earth you will find people speaking in perfect English better than the English themselves. Except in Glasgow ... I still can't understand them!"

"I went to Glasgow once," said Number One, our Commander. 

There followed a period of silence whilst we all waited and looked at Number One.

"And?" asked the Captain, "what happened then?"

"Oh ... nothing," said Number One, "I remember buying a pint of milk there!"

"I spilled a glass of milk once, Cap'ain!" said Spanner our engineer from Glasgow, "what a dour and sombre day that was. Dismal and gloomy it was I tell ye. For two weeks we had tea with no milk in it. Canne imagine that? A family of six and a cat with no milk for a fortnight? 

"We were poor Cap'ain. Very poor indeed. The whole of Glasgow was. So poor even the rain would fall elsewhere. On the rare occasions we had a rainbow it was in black and white. My father used to sell furniture for a living. Our own. At school, I was so poor I could not even pay attention. My teacher wrote in my School Report 'Spanner will go down in History ... And Maths, and Science, and Geography ' and everything else I shouldn't wonder. It's a miracle I work here as an engineer. I only came on board when the spaceship was in Glasgow to visit the toilet. Before I knew it  they made me  the engineer here because I managed to un-block the toilet!"

"Sir, may I remind you that there is an un-identified UFO up ahead," reminded Calculus, our robotic engineer. 

"Indeed there is," said the Captain, "hail him on all frequencies in English only. Speak loud and very slow!"

"Anyone out there speak English?" the communications system blared out very slowly and loud.

"On screen ... magnify ..." said the Captain, "let's see who we are talking to".

On the screen ahead of us we could see the pilot, or captain, of the other space ship. It was a banana.

"What's going on here," said the Captain, "we've just left a bunch of onions in the Onion Nebula and now we have a bunch of bananas. Good thing we're not in the Milky Way ..."

 "I am Musa," interrupted the banana. (This is a joke for intellectuals). "Who are you?"

"Ivor Spatial-Anomaly here," replied our Captain.

"Does it hurt?" asked the banana.

"Only when I sit down!" replied the Captain.

"I have a jar of ointment you can put on it!" suggested the banana.

"Won't putting a jar on it make it more painful?" asked the Captain.

There followed a short period of awkward silence. It was obvious that the banana was getting somewhat irritable.

"You don't look like a human!" our Captain remarked.

"Why should I be?" replied Musa, "you humans are arrogant. I have seen your sci-fi programs on TV. Whenever you meet other species on TV they always look like humans. Sure, you might alter their features a little to make them slightly different, but basically they are always human in nature. And they always speak in perfect English. That's your human arrogance to the fore. What is wrong with me looking like a banana? I am a banana and proud of it. And I speak in banana language. If I talked to you in banana you would slip at the first words".

"I did not meant any offence by it," stuttered the Captain, "only ... we've just met some onions in the Onion Nebula. And now we meet you ..."

"And because I am a banana you think I am bent? Is that it?" asked Musa, "I am as honest as the next man ... eh ... next banana. Which happens to be bent too. We are not all that slippery, you know. Nor are we always green".

"I am sorry, I meant nothing by it," apologised the Captain as he touched his left nipple to cut the sound out. Then he asked Number One, "you take over ... and be more diplomatic! Don't upset him. You know how slippery bananas can be. Remember ... be very diplomatic!"

Number One touched his left nipple and said, "Mr Musa ... is it true you attract fruit flies?"

"What kind of a stupid question is that?" said Musa angrily, "are you insinuating we don't wash?"

"Do you?" asked Number One, "wash that is? As well as attract fruit flies?"

The Captain touched his left nipple several times to cut out the conversation and then said, "I told you to be diplomatic, Number One. Ask him something sensible!"

Number One opened the communication channel and asked, "Mr Musa ... why is it you always go together as a bunch? Is it because there's safety in numbers, or are you attracted to one another? Or is it you're too afraid to walk alone?"

There must have been a delay in communication transmission because Musa did not hear the last question.

Instead he said, "Do you realise that fruit flies only live for 24 hours and then they die. They wake up in the morning, brush their teeth, and by night time they are dead. Hardly worth buying a tube of toothpaste is it? Think about that for a moment arrogant humans. And be grateful every morning for having survived another day! You go around making grandiose plans about this and that as if you ruled the Universe. Well, you don't! In fact you don't rule anything. And anyone of your 24 hours day could be your last day. Just like the fruit fly. So rejoice and be glad in it!"

There followed another period of short silence. The sort of silence when a revealed truth suddenly hits human consciousness, perhaps not for the first time, yet it has an everlasting impact as if it were finally understood for the first time ever.

Can you imagine that? Humanity learning a valuable lesson from a banana? If you can then your brain is as badly wired up as mine is.

Wake up people! Bananas don't talk. So they can hardly teach you or anyone else a lesson. This is just an amusing fictional story! Don't take it too seriously.

"Would you like to ask us some questions?" said Number One, "so we can learn from each other. We are a scientific ship of discovery and we're out here in space to learn from other life forms!"

"Well ... I know you are humans," said Musa, "your stupidity can vouch for that. I have met some of you in the past and they tried to eat me. But this creature here ... he looks different. What is he?"

"He is Calculus," said Number One, "he is made to look like a human but he is essentially a robot. A machine which has been programmed to help us with his great knowledge."

At this point Doctor Penny C Lynn entered the bridge.

"And this other creature," asked Musa, "it looks different too. Looks human. Is it a machine also?"

"No ... she is human all right," explained Number One, "she is the female of the species."

Musa looked at Dr Lynn for a while and said, "I don't understand what you mean by female. Bananas do not have male and female. Explain yourself."

"She is different from me and the rest of men," said Number One, "females of the human species are different from males. Both physically and in other ways too."

"Explain more ..." said Musa, "how different?"

Number One stopped for a while to think and then hesitated, "Let me explain ... when a female like her enters the bridge of the spaceship she always says, 'you're going too fast ... too close to the spaceship in front ... watch out for asteroids ... are you flying on the right side of the road?' And a lot of other chatter that distracts the man at the controls.

"Males of the human species never do that. They let whoever is at the controls be in control. Also, females of the species are bad at reading maps and giving directions. That's why we have invented GPS navigation systems".

At this, Doctor Penny understandably got very upset. She slapped Number One in the face and said, "Look at you. You're talking to a banana you arrogant fool! And giving him the impression that we women are quick tempered and easily angered!" and she stormed out of the bridge.

"Cut ... cut ... cut ..." shouted the Captain pressing his left nipple several times to stop all communication transmissions, "helmsman ... speed ahead quickly ... turn left ... or right ... or any direction ... warp speed whatever ... get us out of here ... fast!"

And so ended another episode in the voyages of the Starship Underpants with us having learnt at least one thing from our encounter with Mr Musa.

Unlike the fruit fly, we have been gifted with more than one day of life. We should be thankful for it ... daily!

(No slips intended or foreseen)  
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